Wednesday, January 18, 2012

BB32: Say Yes To Reasonable Protection

This month's Blog Banter comes from Drackarn of Sand, Cider and Spaceships. He has foolishly chosen to poke the hornet's nest that is the non-consensual PvP debate. Whilst you read his question, I'll be finding a safe place to hide.

"A quick view of the Eve Online forums can always find someone complaining about being suicide ganked, whining about some scam they fell for or other such tears. With the Goons' Ice Interdiction claiming a vast amount of mining ships, there were calls for an "opt out of PvP" option. 

Should this happen? Should people be able to opt-out of PvP in Eve Online. Should CONCORD prevent crime rather than just handing out justice after the event? Or do the hi-sec population already have too much protection from the scum and villainy that inhabits the game?"

* * * * *

How many subscriptions are lost because of suicide ganking, a practice in which players with so much ISK to afford to throw away ships on a constant basis "just for the tears"? How many new players quit in disgust when they are trying to mine to start out and a Thrasher comes in and pops them before CONCORD shows up?

Even without insurance payments if killed by CONCORD, suicide ganking in belts and at gates is rampant in Eve. We talk so proudly about how there is no levels in Eve and players can all mix together and even new players can contribute to a fleet, but then ignore how ISK creates a barrier between new and old where old can throw away ships in suicide ganks with nary a second thought while new players are devastated by the resulting loss.

So yes, I think there should be some minor for of protection from PvP in certain situations. 

Its not like CONCORD doesn't already impact what you can and cannot do. Your ship can't even activate bomb launchers or bubbles in low sec, you can't activate smart bombs near stations, you can't cloak when being chased by NPC police even when they are not on grid with you, etc. So it makes sense that they would build in some override commands to prevent your ship from targeting other ships with what I'm calling an Isolation Matrix. 

Here's how the Isolation Matrix works.

Its automatically installed on all Tech I sub-capital ships (i.e. not faction, Tech II, Tech III, or capital ships). Its on by default and can be manually turned off by right clicking on your ship and choosing Configure Ship, then a window comes up with a check box for activating or deactivating it.

While it is on, your ship cannot be targeted by any other player for any reason. Your row in other player's overview shows as grey to indicate you are not a valid target and anyone that tried to target you will get a message stating "You cannot target a ship with an Isolation Matrix active".

The isolation matrix will be deactivated if you perform one of the following actions:
- steal from someone's can or wreck
- target another player or player owned structure
- join a fleet
- activate smart bomb, ECM burst
- jump or undock or log on into a 0.5 security status or lower system
- launch scan probes
- are not in a NPC corporation
- your sec status is below zero
- fit faction or Tech II modules on the ship

Anytime an action will cause the Isolation Matrix to deactive is about to be performed, a message box will pop up informing the player of this fact and if they want to proceed, much like the loss of security status.

The idea is that the active Isolation Matrix will allow a player to experience Eve without the threat of immediate annihilation and that by the time you've started to branch out into fleets and player corps or lower sec space that you have learned enough to be aware of the threat of suicide ganks. At the same time, they don't have the ability to act as an invulnerable scout. At best they can mine or mission in relative peace, and because the restrictions on the Isolation Matrix are pretty severe for an experience player, it will be mainly new players with limited resources that will benefit.

1 - I considered limiting it to only the starting newbie NPC corporations. Also, idea for marking footnotes shamelessly stolen from Ripard Teg or one of his robots.

* * * * *

My knee jerk reaction when I read the blog banter topic was "hell no, your undock button is your pvp flag!" like a lot of other posts (heck, all of them?!) are going to be. I decided to actually sit down and think about the subject and try to play the devil's advocate and come up with something that prevents suicide ganking, a practice I find abhorrent from an immersion breaking perspective, from impacting the players least able to deal with its occurrence, especially when the suicide ganking is being done by the players most capable of absorbing losses (i.e. people with ISK to throw away ships).

If you read this post and are filled with consuming hatred of me, please don't bother commenting. If you disagree (or agree, but I doubt that) with my idea, please comment with your points.


  1. I'll say the idea is good, but I don't necessarily agree with it. Anyone that would quit because they are suicide ganked would quit relatively soon for another reason. Many MMO players cannot handle "loss" in a game.

  2. Anonymous9:57 am

    I hate this idea, because it's very immersion breaking. Removing insurance from concord kills is a no brainer, and I'd also like to see larger sec status hits for hisec combat (scaled with sec status). From an RP point of view, defying concord and ganking a ship killing hundreds should carry more of a penalty than a minor inconvenience. Conversely, I'd like to see sec status hits in lowsec reduced or eliminated.

  3. I tend to agree to the last comment. Suicide ganking should be posible, but should carry harsher penalties.. but it's really complicated to design a viable way to do so. Anyone can create a "10 hour hero" toon, burn his sec status ganking at will and when it has been burnt to -5.0, simply biomass it and begin with a new ganker character.

    Suicide ganking has its place in Eve, but what concerns me is:

    - No _real_ penalties in-game for the gankers.

    - No _real_ way to defend from it.

    Anything one player does in Eve should bare consequences, and there should be a viable counter-tactic to avoid it. Right now SG falls out of these boundaries, and that should have to be fixed.

    1. After some encouragement by Seismic Stan I wrote a post on the subject despite coming late to the show. It basically comes down to: More non-consensual PVP for the griefers; not an opportunity to opt out of PVP, but an easier way to opt in on behalf of the victims.

      In fact, it is often paradoxically easier to ensure the safety of a mining operation outside of highsec than inside because you can strike pre-emptively and/or block escape routes for offenders with bubbles.

  4. Anonymous11:41 am

    Its not a terrible idea, but off the top of my head i can think of several exploits and problems with the specifics of what you suggest (auto lock-back turning off your IsoMat, exploits in high-sec wars, invulnerable high-sec couriers).

    That said, the idea of offering a PvP flag for newer players is one that I support. Perhaps, as you suggest but discount, this could be applied to the newbie NPC corps while the new player is in them. Additionally, having new players 'grauate' (read 'get kicked out') from the newbie corp into another NPC corp after say 1 month or so could help prevent exploits.

  5. I like your title and agree with it on principal, but the suggested reasonable protection just isn't "reasonable." A flagging system like this could be too easily used by people looking to permanently avoid combat. Even if you made it so that this flag would only operate until one of the suggested parameters were breached, in an effort to try to protect new players, people would STILL game the system. Pacifist alts for intel, not to mention pacifists alts for hauling, mission-running, and anything else they could get away with. I know that would be limited somewhat by not being able to fit faction or T2 modules, but it would still be possible.

    I would advocate a flag system that would only work for the first 14 days would be more acceptable, one that could only be turned off and never turned back on again would be best, so if new players wanted to get directly into PvP they could, but once it was manually turned off, or deactivated that'd be it. Usual on-screen warnings would apply. Also it would have to be for the first 14 days of the account, not just for the new character. Preventing new-spy alts from gaining 14 days of protection and then being biomassed after that.

    I'm not against better protecting new players (to an extent) against the retards that like to prey on them, like banning jet cans in the starter systems would also be a good step. Or at least have modified agression mechanics for them so people can't use them to bait new players would be required. I'm just against any system that could allow players, if they understood how it worked, to be able to deny combat for any longer than the first 14 days of their account's life. After that, all's fair in Eve.

  6. I agree, except to change the fitting T2 exception to fitting meta 5+

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  8. Anonymous4:47 pm

    The first commenter got it right. Anybody who would quit Eve because they got ganked will quit the game for some other reason sooner or later. You either "get" Eve or you don't. I, for one, am tired of people asking CCP to break the game to cater to the people who don't get it.

  9. " players are devastated by the resulting loss." I would love to see the numbers behind this phenomenon. I wonder what the Ragequit Quotient is?

    The real argument here is whether or not CCP would see an increase in subscriber numbers if a period of acceptable molly-coddling could be introduced.

  10. Very interesting idea there, although I agree with the comments about possible exploits, although if limited to hi-sec and ship types and fittings, and perhaps even cargo value, it might be workable. It might end up needing to be quite complex to cope with the abuse us lot will try to throw its way to make the most of it though.

  11. Personally I think some improvements can be made, though they might sound pretty drastic:

    Concord should start podding criminals. Concord should pop & pod anyone with a negative sec status as spoon a they try to enter hi sec space; they should be unable to dock in hi sec, must pay (reasonably cheap) bribes to dock in low sec, all their assets get dumped from high sec stations, end can't set clone contracts in high sec.

    Imperial navies/police should start doing the same (using faction standings instead of sec status, podding only in that empire's space, and no docking/clones anywhere in that empire's space).

  12. So, let me throw a scenario at you.

    I live in a higher class wormhole. Now, I don't really get into sites that much, but let's just pretend that I do. So me and my internet space buddies do some sites for a few hours, and we net like 5 billion worth of sleeper loot and salvage.
    So what's to stop us from dumping it in the nearest hisec and logging in a trial account, firing up the "Isolation Matrix" and setting autopilot to Jita?

    This is just an example spawned from 45 seconds of little to no cerebral activity. How about all the market toons. They'll each have a trial account as well, ferrying billions in T1 salvage as far as the tentacles of the "Isolation Matrix" reach.

    Simply put, this idea is silly.


  13. To counter, suicide ganking is silly from anything but a pure artifact of eve gameplay perspective.